Sora no Manimani 5 – In the Region of the Summer Stars

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A rather implausible plot premise turns into a rather beautiful evocation about the constellations and the reason why people began to stargaze.

Let’s keep this review short and sweet, much like the show itself.

First off–perhaps it’s because I’ve never seen student government officials with this amount of power here but I found it difficult to believe that Fumin could simply order the astronomy club to essentially suspend all its activities. At least when it’s not backed up by the authority of an adult teacher. I kept wondering as I watched the episode’s first half how she could do such a thing, and why everyone seemed to more or less go along with it. Perhaps it was a plot contrivance to get the whole Literature Club out stargazing later on, or maybe class presidents do have that kind of power in Japanese schools; in either case it seemed rather forced. Especially given Fumin’s status in the story as a rival/antagonist.

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Nevertheless, the episode redeemed itself through its latter half, as the club gives the Literature Club a tour of the summer sky. The whole concept of the “star of words” (an awkward translation, I think) was really more about how the stars come to life in the context of stories–Greek myths in this case, since it seems they’ve wholeheartedly accepted the Western constellations. This section of the episode, for once, didn’t feel as tacked on as previous stargazing moments sometimes were; it even seems that the romance was de-emphasized in favor of stargazing. Which is fine with me, since the romance elements so far are not terribly original or captivating, since the characters themselves are rather flat.

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In a way, Sora no Manimani almost makes an ideal educational show. Every episode so far has included at least a few true facts about backyard astronomy, and at its best it does manage to vaguely evoke the feeling of grandeur and joy that stargazing can give. Naturally, there is absolutely no substitute for doing it in person–as I experienced for myself a few months ago and must do again. At the end of the day, an anime is but a pale imitation of the magnificence of the night sky and it will actually require, well, going out of the house and even out of the city to do…something that may be harder for some otaku, I know. :) But perhaps a science class or, perhaps, astronomy club could use this to get a few people started. If Yakitate Japan can inspire the baking of real bread and Guitar Hero inspire people to get real guitar lessons….

Bonus: you win an Internet cookie if you know without Googling what the title of this review refers to! It goes very deep into my interests, so to speak.

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